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Azdel Explores Potential of Cage System for Producing Class A Thermoplastic Composites

15 April 2005

Azdel Inc. is currently evaluating the potential advantages of RocTool's Cage System for use with its own Azdel composite materials.

Azdel, a 50/50 joint venture of GE Advanced Materials and PPG Industries, believes RocTool's innovative, high-speed composite moulding technology will be a great boost to the companies output, with Ken Forden, president AZDEL, Inc: stating that ""We are working in conjunction with RocTool to investigate the use of the Cage System for the production of composites with a class A surface finish.""

RocTool have yielded impressive dividends from their patented Cage System, which is based upon instantaneous heating of the mould surface, whilst the rest of the mould remains cold. The technique is achieved by passing an electrical current over the surface of the mould by inductors which are placed around the component to form a cage. The mould cavity surface is then heated within seconds of temperatures up to 400 °C.

The considerable reduction in production cycle times have made the system attractive to numerous composite manufacturers, with the Italian sports manufacturer Novation, who recently announced a collaboration with RocTool in order to reduce their cycle times from 15 minutes to around 2 minutes. The company were attracted to the system to introduce a variety of composite components such as heal supports and soles to accommodate the growing use of thermoplastics in the sports market, to satisfy demand in regions such as Asia.

Earlier this week, Azdel told Netcomposites that the novel heating offered by the RoC tool process allows heat to be controlled in areas where it is needed, affording an improved finish to the surface, the quality of which is largely determined by tool temperature and material characteristics.

Gordon King, Commercial Director of Azdel added that ""the RoCTool process also assisted in providing the ability to improve the time it takes to heat the material on the surface, which is extremely quick, which in turn gives us a good imprint from the tool surface. Due to the resin rich surface created we can mask the fibre structure of the Azdel Composite. The RocTool process has also enabled us to reduce our cycle times to an industrially acceptable level of efficiency.""

Azdel added that the technology is still undergoing a process of evaluation, which at this early stage is already showing to have ""offered us a lot of solutions to our processing"".

Azdel will continue to evaluate this technology with the aim of commercialising the entire technology (material, processing, design, tooling, engineering etc) and offer this as an entire package to the market.

Asked on where the technology will be used, Gordon King stated that ""If the evaluations are successful in optimising this technology (which we are confident we will be) we will offer this technology globally, but almost certainly have the first commercialisation in Europe and thereafter offer the technology globally.""

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